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Discussion Starter #1
Hey everyone. I just bought this bike about a week ago and I have been doing a few things to it. It needs new tires, which I will be getting soon, and I just changed the oil and the oil filter today. It has problems overheating when sitting, or riding slow, or longer trips. It has a switch override for the fan, which I run the whole time I am riding. The coolant is full and newly flushed, with water wetter in it. In the book it said bad spark could also be a problem, so I replaced the spark plugs. The wires were too expensive for me to buy this time, but they are badly worn. The coils are new as well. With the fan on a switch there should only be 4 possibility's on why it's overheating, thermostat, water pump, radiator, or the spark plug wires making it run lean. It runs strong most of the time, but at low or no throttle it sputters a little bit. For the spark plug wires, I work at an autozone near where I live and they don't carry motorcycle wires. I was wondering if car wires from a honda or something would work, because the spark plug wires were around $150 from the dealer, and the wires for a honda would be $25 lifetime warranty. Also I was wondering if putting a hole in the thermostat would cause the bike to run differently, then if I just replaced it. The thermostat is $44 and I am very limited to my budget for now, so thats why I bought the bike to get better gas mileage. Any help on those two questions would help. If it's the radiator or the water pump, I will just have to come up with money to fix those, but the radiators fins look straight and clean. Any help will be appreciated. Thanks all.

P.s. pictures will be up soon. I love the look of the bike.

(Oh and is it safe to use an air compressor to air the shocks up? Or do you have to use a bicycle pump?)
 
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Oh boy.

The 84/85's known, major, constant 'issue' is running way too hot. Almost every owner, past (like myself) or present, has to deal with it sometime. It never goes away from your mind nor does it get better with age.

The problem is manyfold and if fundamentally a issue with the cooling system. The bike is over 20 years old and scale forms inside the cooling crossover tube, the block's cooling passages and the radiator due to the use of anything but distilled water in the system. The crossover tube is also joined to the block by o-rings that harden and cause problems, the bike has a habit of needing to run lean, the exhaust is right behind the hot-running radiator, the fan temperature switches failing and going out of spec...lots of little things that add up to very hot running. Also, don't forget that '84's came with their temperature gauges incorrect (reading off due to incorrect resistance in the probe / gauge combo).
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Okay, so I am looking at replacing the gauge, and a complete redoing the cooling system, is that what you are recommending?
 

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If you think that scale build up is an issue, you can run it with 50 /50 mix of water and vinegar until its warm and the flush it a few times to clean it up a bit.
You could also use a thermostat from a ZX1000 B (UK) spec you can see that a ZX900 is 82 deg thermostat, I have just looked in my ZX1100 manual and it says Kawasaki used a 69 to 73 deg thermostat in a ZX1000 B - UK model.
This should start full circulation around the rad sooner - especially with your manual fan switch - that should help. :)

You could also see if you can get another thermostat that is 52 mm dia and use that - probably cheaper than a K item?

DO NOT USE an air line on the air forks - they would have the seals blown - a bike pump is much safer.

ALSO - regarding the HT leads, this may help ;

This is a real cheap solution for the SD05FMG plug caps found on our beloved Eliminator. The SD05FMG made by NGK for Kawasaki are only available from Kawasaki and are at least $27 each. I found these SD05FM made by NGK are readily available in the UK are exactly the same length and resistance, only difference is they are red and do not have the groove for the grommet to lock into. I removed the old grommets from the old plug caps they fit the SD05FM nice and snug. If for some reason they dont stay seated I will lock them in place by placing a black zip tie above the grommets. I also installed Accel #3008 wires which are 7mm stranded copper core.

My source for the plug wires was Advance Auto parts and cost was $15 for a set of 8. I had enough leftover to replace the wires on my Yamaha V4 too!
 

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is it overheating? is it leaking coolant? is it boiling over? like dinosnake said it is very common for the gauge not to correct. mine has never been right. i have had to replace the o rings and a few hoses for leaks. i did have mine boil over one time doing a burn out at a buddy wedding party. rad cap was bad not holding pressure. every zx i have ever owned need a new cap. zx900a-ZX11c
 

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Discussion Starter #6
No it is not boiling over, but I don't want to let the temperature gauge keep getting into the red zone. I tried to buy car wires today, and it didn't work, I didn't get a build it yourself kind of kit, so maybe I will try that. I didn't expect to have wires that screwed into the coil. instead of plugging in. I am going to try and take the thermostat out for a little bit and see if thats what it is, I will post what happens later on tonite. I hope it fixes it. If not I will try to flush the radiator some more. Also I found a very small leak in the oil cooler, would this have something to do with overheating?

Oh! And my pipe has the heat wrap stuff on it that is used to keep heat down, maybe my vance hynes pipe can't use the wrap, and it's making it run really hot?

Here are pictures...



 
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No, you don't replace the gauge - Kawi made a resistor mod that recalibrates the gauge.

A lower temp water themostat, as recommeded by Vinnye, is a common mod for ZX900A's and does help. Other common things are:

- install the all-metal Muzzy radiator fan, which both does not melt due to being so close to the exhaust and increases airflow
- check your factory oil cooler for reduced flow, as well as it's hoses, and possibly upgrade to a larger cooler
- Water Wetter in the coolant
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I already have water wetter in the system. I didn't get time before It got dark to try and fix the thermostat, but I will definitely look into a bigger oil cooler, and look at a new fan. Thanks for all the help. I guess it doesn't help that I live in Florida where it's like 90-95 degrees outside all of the time...

So this is my list in order to buy/try.

1. Flush system(agian).
2. Spark plug wires.
3. Radiator cap.
4. Better fan.
5. Bigger oil cooler.
6. Replacing the water pump for a new one.

Thanks for all of the help everyone, if I missed anything else, let me know.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Also is there any gauge I can buy for the bike that actually tells the real temp?


Oh and I also tried to air up the shocks today with a bike pump, and all the air came back out of the forks, so I guess my seals are gone anyways...
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I was also thinking about wrapping the headers since they are so close to the radiator/oil cooler, anyone try doing that yet?

Edit: Something along the lines of this...

Header Manifold Blanket

So I can take it on and off easy.
 
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Some people have wrapped the headers and reported lower temperatures. But note that wrapped headers usually rust underneath the wrap.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Yeah thats why I am thinking about using the blanket instead of the wrap for the headers, I don't think it will still rust underneath since water can still escape from under it. But I guess if it does rust then I will have to deal with that later.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Update:

I got the thermostat housing top off today, and I got asked a very good question from my buddy, "wheres the thermostat at?" So now I have to go buy one, and a lot of other little things where making the bike run funny such as vacuum lines not hooked up/ in wrong places, and my crankcase ventilation hoses were so mangled that I used tape and wrapped them until I can buy new ones tomorrow if they are not that expensive. I also took vinnie's advice, and I bought those kind of accel wires, and I will be getting the new spark plug boots from my dealer tomorrow for $4 a piece. A lot better then buying the 2 new coils with wires on them for $200. Hopefully with a thermostat in it, it will fix my overheating problem. I guess I should have done that first thing, but I thought the guy that had it before me had a little more idea of what he was doing with the bike, I guess I was wrong. Thanks everyone.
 
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I wonder if you removed that lower front cowling that covers the radiator,
if that might improve air flow and prevent it from getting quite so hot?
It sure does - but on a hot day a lot of heat will rise onto you, the rider.

Kinda a catch-22 there.
 

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It sure does - but on a hot day a lot of heat will rise onto you, the rider.

Kinda a catch-22 there.
Still, it might be a temporary option for him until he gets it all sorted out.

My 85 ZL900 has a similar engine with a radiator and no cowling and I don't notice any more heat from the engine than I did from my old air cooled bikes.
Maybe its the riding position?
 

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Discussion Starter #19
I already have a fan switch made. I will take a look at the fairing today and see how much is blocking it, and I might try and cut it to make it have more flow.
 
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If you've already got the fan switch override and you are still overheating you've got a problem that you really need to solve.

You apparently have a blockage either in the cooling or oil systems, and I recommend you solve the root of the problem. It probably won't be easy - you may have to pull the coolant crossover tube off the front of the engine (after removing the exhaust) to clean it and the entire block out, you may have to acid flush the interior of the radiator, you may have to flush out the oil cooler system - but solving it fundamentally is the right thing to do rather than try to simply eliminate the symptoms.
 
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